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This All-Electric Hydrofoil Boat Lets You Fly Above the Waves

The Candela C8 looks like a regular powerboat. But when it gets up to speed, this futuristic leisure craft emerges from the water for a virtually silent ride.

Swedish company Candela wants to totally rethink the world of luxury leisure boats. No fossil fuels, no noisy motors, no bouncing up and down on waves. In fact, when you get up to speed in the company's latest leisure boat, you're not sailing on the water at all -- you're flying above it.

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The Candela C8 leisure boat looks like something you might see in a James Bond film. One moment, it's pushing through the water, the next, it emerges from the waves and seems to be floating on stilts. But this all-electric hydrofoil is actually designed to solve one of the major problems with power boats: energy efficiency. 

"Conventional speedboats are actually some of the most energy-inefficient craft on the planet," says Candela communications manager Mikael Mahlberg over a Zoom call from Sweden. "A conventional planing hull uses 15 times as much fuel per kilometer as a family car."

The Candela C8 electric hydrofoil leisure boat.

Candela

But while making a powerboat all-electric might solve the problem of fossil fuel use, it still doesn't solve one of the issues of basic physics. Dragging the hull through the water creates a huge amount of friction, which in turn means an electric boat needs a lot of power to operate. As a result, Candela says even an electric boat with a large battery would be drained in as little as 30 minutes.  

To solve this problem, Candela added a hydrofoil to its electric boat to lift the hull out of the waves. A hydrofoil works in the same way as the wing on an airplane: Just as air moving over the wing of the plane creates lift, water passing over the hydrofoil pushes the boat up and out of the water, cutting drag by about 80%. As a result, the C8 can cover the whole San Francisco Bay after a two-hour charge -- a range of roughly 50 miles. 

It's not just the hydrofoil that makes this boat different from a regular powerboat. Candela also changed the design of its motor --  taking the traditional gas motor off the back of the boat and replacing it with a highly efficient direct-drive motor, known as the C-Pod, which sits below the hull and powers through the water like a torpedo. 

"My God, it's so silent," Malhberg says. "You have the motor under the water, so there's no transmission noise at all, so it's just silence. It's like a magic carpet ride."

The C8 went on its maiden flight in Sweden in February, and the company is now taking preorders, starting at 290,000 euros excluding tax, or roughly $330,000. Boats can be customized with optional extras like a built-in sound system, radar or even a freshwater shower. 

As for who needs their own electric hydrofoil? Candela is targeting the leisure boating market as well as environmentally conscious buyers. (Why not match the Tesla in your garage with an electric boat down at your dock?) And it may even pick up a few aviation enthusiasts. 

"You don't feel the waves hitting the hull, it's silent and you're unaffected by the sea state, so it's a bit like merging flying and boating," says Mahlberg. "It's a very magical feeling."